What I learnt from the Women Transforming Leadership Programme
'The excitement of dreams coming true is beyond the description of words' Lailah Gifty Akita.
This is exactly how I felt, when I received the offer to be part of the Women Transforming Leadership Programme at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. I was literally on cloud nine as it had been on my bucket list to study there because of the strong Alum network and Oxford has always been news for all good things.
It's been a few weeks since I completed the course, but whilst reflecting on my time at Oxford and the learnings that I still implement in my day-to-day, I realise the impact the course had on me, and why it should be a step that all women in business should take.
- Expansion of network: The Women Transforming Leadership programme gave me an incredible opportunity to broaden my network, beginning with my cohort, which was made up of people with advanced professional expertise from 17 different countries. I consider myself fortunate to be a part of such a broad and dynamic community of professionals. In many ways, their skills and experience are complementary, and their observations throughout the course helped to give a fresh perspective on the issues taught. Additionally, the experiences and stories they offered in class were really motivating. Their varied approaches complemented the class discussions by presenting various scenarios and numerous practical answers for real-world problems. I could never come up with all of these diverse answers to the same problem on my own. This is a tremendously satisfying procedure.
- Building the traits of a good leader: I still recall, it was our first day on the programme and we were asked to get into a room to sing a song. Interestingly it was the first assignment for us together as a cohort and we were all confused. However, we tried giving it a go as per the directions and start opening with our subgroups. It was later at the end of the exercise, I realized, it taught me some simple basics of a good leader. To share a few examples of a good leader; always leave the team to decide ways of working but always set the boundaries, to lead by example, keep checking the pulse of your team and see if they need help.
- Learning to let go: Although I still enjoy the release of endorphins that comes from completing a task. Oh, how I benefited from learning to put some physical distance between myself and those foot-long lists! It's no secret that there's a lot to go through during the Women Transforming Leadership programme. There are lectures to study for, office emails to respond to, and so on. But the way I was able to multitask, somewhere to help me to push my boundaries. However, in heart I knew that it is not sustainable and based on my conversations with the mentors, I realized we don’t have to excel everywhere - prioritization is the key.
- Importance of self-reflection: At the start of the programme, we were asked to do a short psychometric test, and based on those reports, we were given one to one coaching sessions. I won’t shy away sharing that it was an eye-opener! Based on the report's analysis and my one to one, I learnt that many of my day to day actions were ingrained within me, part of who I am. It was a great self-reflection; being able to recognise my inherent strengths and how to maximize them to be a successful leader.
Needless to say, the one week at Oxford was in every way transformative, and the knowledge and growth it has afforded me are invaluable in every way.
To the women out there, who are still apprehensive to apply, all I can say, if we don't break down the barriers, question the status quo, and work for equality, no one else will, and the Women Transforming Leadership Programme is a capsule to remind you of the same.